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Moka pot bewing help

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ashleysigh Mar 5, 2012 07:28 PM

When I first purchased my pot, I had an issue with too much sediment in the brew. I bought a can of Illy moka coffee, and there was no sediment at all when I brewed it. I also noticed that the coffee came up very slowly when I used the Illy moka coffee, as opposed to how quickly it would come up when I was using coffee I ground myself using a cheap burr grinder. I've tried MANY different grind sizes (from medium to extra fine), and still get lots of sediment. I figured my grinder just sucked (which it does). So recently I ground locally roasted beans in-store, using a setting finer than drip but coarser than espresso, and still got bad brew.

I didn't change my brewing steps from using the Illy coffee to freshly ground coffee, so I'm not sure what else I can do. I fill the basket up, but do not tamp it. Set it to medium heat. Take it off as soon as it gurgles. Any tips? Do I just need a better grinder?

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    PepinRocks Mar 5, 2012 08:34 PM

    Hi Ashley,

    I'm a coffee fanatic. And I do sense the frustration. Spend $25 and get an aeropress. You'll get more of what you want, with easy cleanup and a smooth extraction. Make sure that you measure the water temp - too hot and it'll be bitter.

    That aside ... yeah your grinder will limit your success with a moka pot. Freshly ground coffee isn't always "freshly ground fresh coffee". Mine is roasted at home so it is. But store bought coffee is rarely close to fresh. A GOOD grinder will allow you do a lot but I'm not sure you want to spend $100-150. Whereas your current grinder on fine will do a good job for an aeropress. A moka pot can be more finicky for sure.

    I'd try using a pretty fine grind. Generally the moka pots LIKE a fine grind. Please do not tamp. Measure out exactly how much you'll try. In theory, if you start small - say half of capacity, run a batch and then do more batches with more coffee until you find the balance of a good extraction that isn't too fast (watery) or too slow (bitter and burnt).

    Initial runs should be watery. If really watery then next try 2/3 to 3/4 of capacity. Also try using your heat a bit lower - like a low-medium instead of medium.

    Try also the folks on coffeegeek.com. Some of them are HIGHLY experienced with moka pots and can help you to get the most out of it.

    I hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: PepinRocks
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      ashleysigh Mar 6, 2012 05:53 PM

      Thanks for the suggestions! I ran a few batches last night, playing around with the heat setting. I did get a slightly better tasting brew with the heat on medium low, but it didn't seem to come up any slower.

      I did all the batches with the basket filled and leveled off (not tamped!), but I will play around with the amount grounds. With the Illy coffee, I noticed when cleaning the pot that the grounds had expanded so much that I couldn't just tap basket to get them out, I had to use a spoon to scoop them out. I'm wondering if the grounds need to end up being tamped that tightly to get a good extraction.

    2. paulj Mar 6, 2012 10:52 AM

      If you are getting a lot of sediment, then either the grind as a whole is too fine, or it isn't very uniform. Whirly blade grinders are notorious for uneven grinds.

      It may be hard to beat the uniformity of preground Italian brands, whether Illy or D'Aquino (which Trader Joes used to carry).

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj
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        ashleysigh Mar 6, 2012 06:02 PM

        The batch of coffee I'm using now I ground in-store, hoping for a more consistent grind. It didn't didn't make a difference in the amount of sediment in my brew. I guess in-store grinders are prone to producing residual powdery grinds?

      2. Eiron Mar 6, 2012 01:51 PM

        I agree, preground Illy (or Medaglia d'Oro, or Bustello, or others) is probably going to be much more consistent in grind quality than what you'll produce with your cheap burr grinder. The sediment is a direct result of your grinder creating a wide range of ground bits at every setting. (Think of it this way: you're adjustment is limiting the "maximum size" of ground coffee, but your grinder is always going to ALSO give you a bunch of fine powder at every setting.)

        I'd say the best purchase for you at this point in time is going to be a refurbished Baratza Maestro Plus (or possibly a "Starbucks Barista") for around $80-$90. It will deliver the consistency you're looking for & will enable you to create more consistent grinds for better drip & press pot coffee as well. (It'll struggle for espresso, but it doesn't sound like you care about that right now.)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Eiron
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          ashleysigh Mar 6, 2012 06:09 PM

          I'll definitely look into getting a legit grinder. There is definitely enough of a difference in taste when using freshly ground coffee, that would make it a worthwhile investment.

          My cheap grinder was a Christmas present. When I found out how much it cost I figured it wouldn't be that great haha.

          1. re: ashleysigh
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            jkling17 Mar 6, 2012 11:43 PM

            Found one for you ...
            http://www.ebay.com/itm/MAESTRO-BARAT...

            Buy it now @ $40 plus $10 shipping for a used Baratza ... that seems like a good deal. I had seriously considered buying it out from under you ... but I'm holding out for a high-end grinder - once we redo the kitchen.

            1. re: jkling17
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              andrewtree Mar 7, 2012 06:24 AM

              Go for it, I've been using a Baratza Maestro to grind for a Moka pot for years and get a minimal sediment. And I get coffee from a small roaster so I know the beans are fresh.

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